Part I: "I live on raw salt pork
... hard bread and sugar":
The Evolution of Soldiers' Rations
"Hunger is a good cook." (Private George Daniel Flohr, 1780)2
The writer Paul Fussell spoke for soldiers through the ages when in an account of his experiences during the Second World War he noted his "rations were tedious" and that "soldiers at all times and places are fixated on food."3
A few introductory anecdotes support these statements. Marine Sergeant William Manchester described soldiers living in foxholes and eating cold, canned rations for extended periods. He concluded that "The men would have settled for a Coleman stove and a hot-mess line." Another Marine's description of a 1944 meal in the South Pacific gives an idea of what a "hot-mess line" would have served up:
Each battalion had its own galley, but chow on Pavuvu consisted mainly of heated C rations: dehydrated eggs, dehydrated potatoes, and that detestable canned meat called Spam. The synthetic lemonade, so-called battery acid, that remained after chow was poured on the concrete slab deck of the galley to clean and bleach it. It did a nice job. As if hot C rations didnt get tedious week in and week out, we experienced a period of about four days when we were served oatmeal morning, noon, and night. Scuttlebutt was that the ship carrying our supplies had been sunk."4
On the lighter side, Manchester wrote that mail call was the greatest morale booster; his most memorable came on Christmas 1944 when a friend "got a present from his mother in Indianapolis. We all hovered over him when he unwrapped it. It was a can of Spam."5
U.S. rations were originally based on the eighteenth-century British army allotment. By the standards of the day the 1776 Continental Army ration was quite generous, at least on paper, with its "One pound of beef ... [and] One pound of bread" and small amounts of vegetables, rice, and cornmeal. Billy G. Smith, in his work The "Lower Sort:" Philadelphia's Laboring People 1750-1800, estimates that the average laborer consumed per day 1 1/3 pounds of flour or cornmeal, and about 1/2 pound of meat, with lesser amounts of vegetables, dairy products, etc.. He also notes that the Philadelphia almshouse in the 1790's gave its charges 1/3 pound "of meat for every pound of cereals" while prisoners in the early-nineteenth century consumed 1 1/4 pounds of bread and 1/2 pound of beef a day. Since most Revolutionary soldiers were of the "lower sort," some may have considered joining the army an improvement in their situation.6
Ration components and quantities were affected by cultural considerations, either actual or ideal. To American soldiers meat seems to have been the most important item, even though bread was issued in equal proportion. Timothy Pickering referred to a national affinity towards meat in February 1778, noting that less meat would be needed if the troops made "soups every day, thickened with good bread." He also reflected that "No people on earth eat such quantities of flesh as the English," and that "Nothing but the example of the officers would possibly avail to effect this matter, and perhaps the attempt [to reduce the meat ration] could not be made without the danger of mutiny ..."7
By comparison French and German army rations up to World War I placed more emphasis on bread. Pickering also referred to this, stating that the "great [French Marshall] Turenne's army had daily two pounds of bread a man and little meat, and this I understand is the practice of the German & French troops to this day  ... Marshall Saxe, I recollect, observes that if you give a full supply of bread to the Germans, they are always easy."8
From 1775 to 1900, the U.S. Army ration saw few major modifications. During the Revolution, fresh or salt meat, and soft bread or hard biscuit were the staples, with few vegetables reaching the men. For about 40 years after that war vegetables were wholly removed from the allotment. Peas and beans were reintroduced before the 1846 Mexican War, but it wasn't until 1890 that a pound of vegetables was officially added to soldiers' rations. Along with these changes came, in 1898, authorization of the enlistment of men to serve solely as cooks; prior to that time, soldiers were taken from the ranks to serve for short periods at no extra pay. The first Cooks and Bakers School was opened in 1905, and shortly after that U.S. Army cooks' manuals were printed with instructions, advice, and recipes; among the latter were batter or corn cakes, omelets, and "el rancho," Irish, and Turkish stews, each serving one hundred men.9
Despite this progress, soldiers' field rations had altered little. Although refrigerated beef, dried foods, and canned meats, vegetables, and fruits had been introduced in the nineteenth century, the 1917 field ration of 3/4 pound of bacon or 1 pound of canned meat, 16 ounces of hard bread, with small quantities of coffee, sugar, and salt, was not very different from soldiers' food in 1775 or 1861. Hardtack and bacon were still being issued for field service in the 1930's and Second World War combat rations retained meat and crackers as an important part of the diet.10
The advent of the new canned and boxed field rations in the 1940's signaled the real revolution in soldier's food. They were scientifically formulated, could be eaten hot or cold, and were easily carried in packs or pockets. Great efforts were made to obtain the best-tasting and most nutritious foods for the new ration, and processing, preservation, and packaging all showed the effects of modern innovation.11
During any time period, there were usually differences between officers' and enlisted men's food. Officers, because of their rank and responsibilities, had many privileges; in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries these included two or more rations per day, an enhanced ability to buy supplemental foods, and the authority to hire a personal waiter, usually an enlisted man of the officer's unit. All these benefits depended on the nature and locale of their service and whether or not pay was up-to-date.12
In some situations, that gap was quite wide. During World War II a Marine private compared officers' and enlisted men's fare aboard a troopship:
The heat was intense - at least 100 degrees - but I gulped down a cup of hot 'joe' (black coffee), the stuff that replaced bread as the staff of life for Marines and sailors. I grimaced as the dehydrated potatoes battered my taste buds ... It would have been a relief to eat on deck, but we were forbidden to take chow out of the galley. One day, as we moved along some nameless companion-way in a chow line, I passed a porthole that gave me a view into the officer's mess. There I saw Navy and Marine officers clad neatly in starched khakis sitting at tables in a well-ventilated room. White-coated waiters served them pie and ice cream.13
On campaign, or when lacking money, officers were issued common rations and suffered shortages and poor food along with their men. A British lieutenant described an active campaign in 1777:
By good fortune my canteen was brought this morning, for this week past we have lived like beasts, no plates, no dishes, no tableclothes, biscuits supply the place of the first but for the others no substitute can be found ... I write this under a tree, while my black is making a fire to boil my pork, and my white servant is pitching my tent.14
In 1782 George Washington frankly explained his officers' impoverished situation:
It is vain Sir, to suppose that Military Men will acquiesce contently with bare rations ... A Military Man has the same turn to sociability as a person in Civil life ... and his pride is hurt when circumstances restrain him. Only conceive then, the mortification they ... must suffer when they cannot invite a French Officer, a visiting friend, or travelling acquaintance to a better repast than stinking Whiskey (and not always that) and a bit of Beef without Vegitables ...15
Considering that most soldiers were young and rations sometimes scanty, it would be expected that the food allotment often did not fill the void in their bellies. In addition labors like cutting wood, and building roads and fortifications burned calories. Some soldiers were able to live on less than could others. A Confederate surgeon noted, "I am very well & hearty as a pig on half rations of corn meal & 1/3 rations of bacon and poor beef sometimes." Another southerner wrote of his food allotment, "We would have starved on this in the commencement of the war. But we have learned to live on little and are much healthyer than we were then."16
Sometimes the nature of army food caused problems. An Illinois soldier in the Mexican War wrote, "Our fare is truly bad enough. We have very fat, rusty side meat, a kind of hard, square bread sent us in barrels ... together with coffee. Sugar & Butter, eggs, milk, vegitables ... are out of the question. I can hardly manage to get enough down to preserve me and am some what lean just for want of something good to eat." In 1863, Union Private Walter Carter noted, "We have been living on hard bread, pork, coffee and sugar for over three weeks now, and our systems are completely run out. We have not the substance within that can bear up any longer ... I cannot drink the coffee; it hurts me, and consequently I live on raw salt pork, (lean), hard bread and sugar. I cannot sustain a working life on that 'fod.' What would a farmer think of such living, while in the hot, noonday sun? What do they do more than we?" (By the following year he was an old campaigner: "Across the Pamunkey River," in Virginia, "May 29, 1864 ... my health is excellent, and I can now eat hardbread, pork, and drink coffee with a keen relish; I depend a good deal upon sugar, and manage to have a good supply with me generally.")17
In modern warfare living conditions can be more of a problem than insufficient rations. Marine Sergeant William Manchester described conditions on Okinawa as "one vast cesspool" reminiscent of the First World War; he wrote of the "Everlasting D Ration, a chunk of bitter chocolate, supposedly packed with nutrition, which looked and tasted like modeling clay and was all I ate for five days, combat having destroyed my appetite." Marine Eugene Sledge recalled that during the Okinawa fighting, "Our food usually consisted of a cold can of C rations and, rarely, a canteen cup of hot coffee ... We ate only because hunger forced us to do so. No other stimulus could have forced me to eat when my nostrils were so saturated with the odor of decay that I frequently felt sick. I ate little during that period, but drank hot coffee or bouillon at every opportunity." Having fought for eighty-two days he "entered the campaign weighing about 145 pounds, and weighed about 120 lbs. at the end. All the men lost 20-25 pounds."18
How well soldiers ate was not solely dependent upon issued food. Whenever the situation allowed soldiers grew garden vegetables, often on their own initiative. Early in the nineteenth century the high command recognized that these foods were crucial to keeping soldiers healthy and many army posts cultivated gardens to supplement rations. In 1818 the War Department "ordered frontier garrisons to undertake extensive farming activity," an order which remained in effect until 1833. Fort Smith in the Arkansas Territory took this to an extreme. By late August 1819 the soldier-farmers "were living on their own corn and vegetables ... Three years later, the eighty-acre farm had provided a surplus of 1,000 bushels of corn," and by 1823 the fort also had "more than 100 cattle and some 800 hogs." While soldiers' health benefited from these efforts farming was a distraction. In 1830 the commander at Fort Snelling was informed that he no longer had "to raise corn; especially as it will require a considerable portion of his command to defend his fields against the blackbirds - and no small amount for ammunition."19
Soldiers often managed to supplement rations in other ways. Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries individual soldiers and mess squads could purchase extra food; from the late-eighteenth century until the early twentieth century, company funds, often handled by the First Sergeant, were also used to supplement the ration. August Hettinger, serving with the 8th Infantry after the Civil War described a typical situation:
... A Company had the worst reputation ... as a feeder ... No matter what the rations consisted of, in this company you received only hardtack, bacon, and coffee. Even beans were considered a luxury. On the other hand, my own company furnished the most substantial meals I ever saw, anywhere. Here ... one can see the value of management, and honestly, the members of one company perpetually went hungry while the next company lived on the fat of the land on the identical same rations.20
Vermonter Walter Fisk wrote in 1862:
Occasionally a sutler comes into camp, and forthwith a rush is made for their 'goodies,' regardless of the extravagant prices demanded. Cheese at fifty cents a hunk, said chunk said to weigh a pound, pies as large as a common saucer, and perhaps a little too thick to read fine print through, for a quarter, and other things accordingly. A hungry man could invest five dollars for a dinner at one of these establishments and scarcely do justice to his appetite.21
And theft was common. In 1778, at "the Gulph" near Valley Forge, the commander of Jackson's Additional Regiment issued this remonstration:
Complaint has been made by many of the Inhabitants near this post of their Spring Houses being broke open & large quantities of Butter, Cheese, Bread & many other valuable articles stole from them, and it is strongly suspected these Robberies have been committed by some of the soldiers...
During the Civil War, Walter Carter freely confessed numerous indiscretions.
September 1862: This morning I went foraging, and got corn, potatoes, cabbages, beets, etc., to make a grand boiled dinner. It was a great treat, after living so long on nothing ..."; Near the "Rappahannock river ... November 1863 ... I am now... living pretty well; even this morning out here on picket, I had toasted soft bread, butter, cheese, coffee and apple sauce; it was the result of a strike I made at a neighboring house, in our last camp.22
Some Marines took a different tack on Guadalcanal in 1945:
Across the road from us was a battalion of 'Seabees' (naval construction battalion). Late one afternoon three or four of us went over and eased quietly into the end of their chow line. Their cooks recognized us as Marines but didn't say anything. We loaded up on real ice cream, fresh pork chops, fresh salad, and good bread (all unheard of delicacies ...) and sat at a clean table in a spacious messhall. It sure beat C rations in a bivouac area. As intruders, we expected to be thrown out any minute. No one seemed to notice us, though.23
Commanders attempted to regulate how food was cooked, often unsuccessfully. In 1777 Continental soldiers were urged to "accustom themselves more to boiled meats and soups, and less to broiled and roasted, which as a constant diet, is destructive to their health." A private of the 51st Regiment of Foot in 1809 described a major of the regiment, "as great a tyrant as ever disgraced the army" who "delighted in going round the B[arrac]ks on a Sunday morning to see if he could catch any of the married people roasting their meat. If he saw any meat roasting he would cut it down, and carry away the string and nail in his pocket, observing they should boil their meat, it was more nourishing. "24
Early in the Civil War officers also tried to encourage the men to make boiled or stewed dishes. Vermonter Wilbur Fisk wrote from near Richmond, Virginia, in June 1862: "Hard crackers and meat are the sum total of our living, the visits of sutlers being almost as rare as those of angels. ... all attempts to modify the flavor of our plain fare - as, for instance, to warm over our meat in a spider and fry our crackers in the surplus fat - is promptly frowned down by the authorities that be." These attempts at regulation were soon abandoned, and fried or roasted foods were widely eaten on both sides during the war.25
All soldiers tried to imitate dishes they had at home. In addition to boiled, roasted, or fried meats, firecake, and other crude meals, Continental soldiers made stew, pudding, milk porridge, suppawn, potpie, "Do Boys," and dumplings. Civil War soldiers prepared meats the same way, and also made soup, stew, hash, pudding, flapjacks, "fried cakes," corndodgers, boiled or roasted corn, "succatash," baked beans, and "scouse."26
How close these dishes came to the home-cooked original is open to question. In 1862 Private Fisk set out what was likely a common theme of soldiers' cooking: "... these ... boys ... out-Graham Sylvester Graham himself, in his most radical ideas of simplicity in diet... Coarse meal, cold water and salt have been the ingredients composing many a meal for us, which a thanksgiving supper, in other circumstances, will scarcely rival."27
The reasons soldiers through the ages ate what they did were simple; cultural preference dictated food types and portions, and the need for large quantities of easily stored and long-lasting foodstuff narrowed the range still more. Factors affecting food condition, shortages, and soldiers' ability to supplement the ration were various and complicated. Troops stationed at a frontier or backwater outpost often suffered with poor food. In time of war, society's attitude towards soldiers was not as important as the economy, reliability of resources, and any number of logistical considerations. Peacetime was another matter. United States soldiers' living conditions worsened during the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when there was no threat to the country's safety, with concurrent reductions in the army's size, the military budget cutbacks, and increasing numbers of enlisted men recruited from the margins of society. Where this concerns food, witness the elimination of vegetables from soldiers' rations at the end of the War for Independence and the Civil War.
In closing, though soldiers often learned to eat army rations "with a keen relish" through sheer necessity, their thoughts and spare time were often occupied by the search for "something good to eat," and the variety, sustenance, and comfort afforded by familiar and nutritious foods.28
Part II: Salt Beef to C Rations:
A Compendium of North American Soldiers' Rations, 1756-1945
This-representative collection of ration issues spans 189 years; an anecdote concerning food preparation, condition, or consumption accompanies each entry. All rations given are for United States troops unless otherwise noted.
Caloric requirements and intake: During the development of U.S. army combat rations in 1940, the primary requirement was that they "should contain not less than 4,000 calories and preferably ... 4,500, as it has been found that this much food is required for the average soldier under field conditions." This remains the present-day allowance for troops doing extraordinary labor; three thousand calories is the approximate standard for the modern U.S. soldier's normal daily intake. Massachusetts soldiers in the Seven Years' War living on British army rations received about 2,400 to 3,100 calories per day, depending on whether the meat was beef or pork, salt or fresh.29
Rations for campaigning soldiers provided a bare minimum. In July 1779, General John Sullivan's Continental troops subsisted on 1 1/4 pounds of salt beef and either 1 pound of hard bread or 1 1/4 pounds soft bread, giving a range of 2,493 to 2,772 calories per day. A typical Union army marching ration of 3/4 pound of pork or bacon, and 1 pound of hardtack, .6 ounce of salt, 1.28 ounces of coffee, and 2.4 ounces of sugar supplied roughly 3,294 calories. Second World War combat rations also fell short. The daily emergency allotment of three fortified chocolate D ration bars (1942) contained 1,800 calories; canned C rations (1943) contained 2,974 calories; boxed K rations (1943) "as a whole contained from 3,145 to 3,397 calories, depending upon the meat component used in the supper unit."30
Caloric Values for Selected Ration Components, 1756-191831
Item Quantity Calories Salt beef 1 lb. 1102 Salt pork 1 lb. 2602 Fresh beef 1 lb. 1577 Fresh pork 1 lb. 1494 Bacon* 1 lb. 2602 Bread 1 lb. 1116 Corn Meal 1 lb. 1648 Hominy 1 lb. 398 Rice** 1 oz. 105 Butter 1 oz. 200 Peas*** 1 pt. 462 Potatoes**** 1 oz. 26.4 Beans*** 1 pt. 450 Salt 0 Molasses 1 oz. 75.4 Sugar 1 oz. 110 Cider Vinegar 1 oz. 3.97 Coffee***** 1 oz. 4.3 Rum or Whiskey, 80 Proof 1 oz. 64.5 90 Proof 1 oz. 73.5 100 Proof 1 oz. 124 * Cooked ** Unprocessed *** Dried and cooked **** Without skin ***** Based on value for instant coffee
British Troops, 1756-1781
Standard ration, 1756: During the Seven Years' War in America, Massachusetts soldiers were served the same ration as British regulars: "seven pounds of beef or four pounds of pork, either fresh or salt; seven pounds of bread, or flour sufficient to bake it; three pints of peas or beans; a half-pound of rice; and a quarter-pound of butter [weekly]." Spruce beer was also brewed occasionally, the boughs being gathered by the men and mixed with molasses. Unfortunately it was found that some soldiers tended to consume the molasses alone ("to the damage of their health") instead of using it to make beer. 32
Fig. 1: A private of the Delaware Battalion of the Flying Camp, 1776, carrying a brass kettle. Brass cookware was rare in the Revolutionary army; cast-iron pots were sometimes used by soldiers in the militia and Continental Army, but tin or sheet-iron camp kettles were more commonly used during the War for Independence. (Courtesy of the artist, Peter F. Copeland.)
Anecdotes: In September 1758 provincial Private Obadiah Harris, noted, "We drawed stores for seven days. We had four pounds of pork, six pounds of flour, three gills of rice, [and] three ounces of butter. That is all the provision for seven days." Captain John Knox, 43rd Regiment, in garrison, Annapolis, Nova Scotia, March 1758: "a soup made of the king's pease, with a piece of pork in it, composed the principal dish in our bill of fare ..."33
Standard ration, 1781: A "memorandum ... found among some British papers at York Town Virginia," in October 1781, listed the soldiers' daily "Allowance of Provisions": 1 pound of beef or 9 ounces of pork, 1 pound of flour or bread, 3/7 pint of peas, and 1/6 quart of "Rum or Spirits." Seven days' allowance of 1/2 pint oatmeal or rice and 6 ounces of butter was also issued. It was noted that "Since the troops have been upon this island, spruce beer has been issued at 8 quarts for 7 days. N.B. When the small species are not delivered, 12 oz of pork are allowed."34 (The "small species" for British troops at Yorktown included sugar, chocolate, and coffee. Sauerkraut was also issued on occasion to minimize the effects of scurvy for troops in garrison or winter quarters.35)
Anecdote: German Sergeant Berthold Koch (Von Bose Regiment), noted in 1781, "... each man, officers as well as privates, received four measures of corn instead of bread and for meat, such cattle as the enemy had left behind ... We placed the corn on the fire to cook it. Then it was taken from the container and eaten. The meat was either boiled or roasted on sticks and eaten."36
Continental Army, 1775-1782
1775 to 1778:The ration set by Congress in 1775 and 1776 provided the basis for food allotments during the war. Beer, molasses, milk, and butter were eventually dropped from the official list, and while efforts were made to provide sufficient quantities of "peas or beans ... or vegetables equivalent," supplies were never consistent. Vegetables procured ranged from potatoes and onions to turnips and watercress.37
A typical early-war ration was specified in General William Heath's orders, Boston, 12 July 1777. Per man per day: "1 lb Flour or Bread," "1 1/2 lb Beef or 18 oz Pork," and "1 Quart of Beer." Per man per week: "5 pints of Pease," "1 pint of Meal," and "6 oz Butter." Per 100 men per week: "6 lb Candles ... for Guards," and "8 lb Soap." In addition there was issued "Vinegar occasionally" and "1 Jill of Rum Pr. Man each Day on Fatigue [work detail] ... such Articles as cannot be procured the Commissary is to pay Money in Lieu thereof agreable to the established Rules in the Army."38
Winter months posed difficulties in feeding an army. In George Washington's 8 February 1778 General Orders it was noted that the "Comissary Genl. proposes that instead of the ration heretofore Issued there should be Issued a pound and a half of flouer, one lb of Beef or 3/4 Salt pork and a certain Quantity of Spirits ..." On 16 April a change in the food allotment reflected an improvement in supply: "A ration for the future, shall consist of 1 1/2 lb. flour or bread ... 1 lb. of Beef or Fish, or 3/4 lb. Pork, and one gill of whiskey or Spirits, or 1 1/2 lb. Flour or Bread, 1/2 lb. Pork, or Bacon, 1/2 pint Pease, or Beans, one gill of Whiskey or Spirits.39
Four months later the allotment had been amended once again: That the whole army may be served with the same ration the Commissary Genl. is, till further orders, to issue as follows: One pound 1/4 flour, or soft bread, or 1 lb. of hard bread; 18 oz. beef, fresh or salt; 1 lb. pork, or 1 lb. of fish, & 2 oz. butter; a gill of rum or whiskey, when to be had; the usual allowance of soap and Candles. "40
Fig. 2:Sheet-iron kettle based on 1782 Continental Army specifications. Similarly manufactured kettles, sometimes of tin, were used by American soldiers from the mid-18th century to the end of the 19th century. (Illustration by Ross Hamel.)
July 1782: In 1782 the provision allotment was simplified with the elimination of vegetables. They were not officially reinstated until after the War of 1812.41
“Ration to consist of 1 lb Bread or flour at the Option of the Contractor, 1 lb Beef or 3/4 lb Pork, 1 Gill Whiskey or Country Rum, 1 quart Salt to 100 Rations fresh Meat, 2 quarts Vinegar to 100 Rations, 8 lb of Soap and 3 lb Candles to 100 Rations.”
Campaign ration: On 30 July 1779, soldiers with General John Sullivan's Indian expedition were ordered "to take in their packs ten days bread, part hard & part soft, also two days' salted meat." (On 11 July the allotment of these articles had been set at "1 1/4 pound of soft bread or flour or 1 pound of hard bread per day [and] 1 1/4 [pound] of fresh or salt beef...")42
Anecdotes: Jehiel Stewart, aboard one of General Benedict Arnold's row gallies on Lake Champlain, noted "Octo 2  the most of us went without brakefast... We drew one Days alowence we Drew flower in Stad of bread and we was forst to make Some Do[ugh] Boys and Boile them with Some meet and we eat about Sun Down ...;" "Octo 3 ... we Draw no Bread yet... we are forst to boile Do Boys as yet and Drink lake worter we Draw Salt pork and pees to Day." Private Daniel Granger's description of cooking on the march, 17 October 1777:
We struck up a fire by a large Stump, on with [camp] Kittle, to make some hasty Pudding, & an other Kettle to heat some water to steep some Tea ... when don I took a long Board from a Fence, lade one end on the fence & the other on a stump, took off my Kittle of Pudding, turned it out in six Piles on the Board ... when the Mess came & saw the Pudding on a Board, it made some sport, we had Sugar in our Packs which we used with our Pudding & Tea, (our Meat had been cooked) we ate as fast as possible, expecting every moment to hear the drums beating ...43
War of 1812
Standard daily ration: 2 March 1812, "... each ration shall consist of one pound and a quarter of beef, or three quarters of a pound of pork, eighteen ounces of bread or flour, one gill of rum, whiskey, or brandy, and at the rate of two quarts of salt, four quarts of vinegar, four pounds of soap, and one pound and a half of candles, to every hundred rations."44
Campaign rations, haversacks, and cooking equipment: While camped at Buffalo, New York, prior to the invasion of Upper Canada in 1814, General Winfield Scott paid detailed attention to the men's equipment and rations. 23 June, "evry Man in the brigade ... shall at all times be in possession of a harversack capable of containing bread and meat for three days" (3 3/4 pounds of beef and 3 pounds 6 ounces of bread). In 1812 mess equipment was stipulated for "every six men ... one iron camp kettle, or pot, (of four gallons) and two tin pans ..."45
Mexican-American War, 1846-1848
Standard daily ration: Twelve ounces of pork or bacon, or twenty ounces of beef; eighteen ounces of soft bread or flour, or twelve ounces of hard bread, or twenty ounces of cornmeal; eight quarts of peas or beans for every one hundred men, or ten pounds of rice. Coffee and sugar was also issued to the troops, having replaced the alcohol ration in October 1832 by Executive Order of President Andrew Jackson. (Alcohol had been eliminated from the soldiers' official ration in 1830.)46
Anecdotes: Tennessee Private John R. McClanahan, camp on the Rio Grande, 1846:
... I diet principally upon crackers and coffee, having had as yet, but little appetite for meat. Our cooking utensils consist of two iron pans, one frying pan, and one large iron bucket.... It needed not your mention to remind me of your vegetables and milk ... as well as your cool well water and fruit. I have occasionally had an opportunity of buying a little goat's milk from the Mexicans which is all I have tasted since I left home.
In August 1846 Benjamin Scribner, an Indiana volunteer at Camp Belknap on the Rio Grande, attributed the "badly selected ground and our frequent want of full rations" to his officers. "Other regiments around us better officered fare very differently. I visited another corps the other day, and to my surprise found they had for some time been drawing an excellent article of flour, good pickles, and molasses. This was the first time I knew that such things could be obtained, except from the sutlers who charged seventy-five cents per quart for the last-mentioned article."47
American Civil War
Standard daily ration: Between 3 August 1861 and 20 June 1864 the complete ration for the Union Army was as follows: "twelve ounces of pork or bacon, or, one pound and four ounces of salt or fresh beef; one pound and six ounces of soft bread or flour, or, one pound of hard bread, or, one pound and four ounces of corn meal; and to every one hundred rations, fifteen pounds of beans or peas, and ten pounds of rice or hominy; ten pounds of green coffee, or, eight pounds of roasted (or roasted and ground) coffee, or, one pound and eight ounces of tea; fifteen pounds of sugar; four quarts of vinegar; ... three pounds and twelve ounces of salt; four ounces of pepper; thirty pounds of potatoes, when practicable, and one quart of molasses."48
A Union private's comment of May 1863:
Speaking of rations reminds us of the warm discussion some of the boys had in regard to what is allowed and what is not. We all know that Government gives us besides our bread, meat, and coffee, sundry articles such as hominy, meal, peas, vegetables, and so forth, but which we seldom ever see. The army regulations allows us these, or something in 'lieu thereof.' As these articles so conducive to health in hot weather are not provided us, we sometimes feel it no impudence to inquire in what shape the 'lieu thereof' is coming. Undoubtedly it is all right - the officers say it is - but we wish they would make it a little plainer for there are some who pretend they can't see it.49
Fig. 3: One Federal soldier wrote: "The cooking outfit for two men consisted of one very light long handle sheet iron frying-pan, one tin coffee-pot with handle melted off and wire bale attached through two bayonet holes at the top, [and] two tin cups ... the coffee-pot answered the triple purpose of boiling coffee, rice, and sweet potatos ... everything on the march that was baked, roasted, fried or stewed, was done in the frying pan." Army-issue sheet-iron kettles were usually left behind when campaigning. Stephen E. Osman, "Dinner with the 92nd Illinois," Military Collector & Historian. Vol. XLVIII, No. 4 (Winter 1996), 182-183. (Drawing from John D. Billings, Hardtack and Coffee (Boston, 1887), 117).
Campaign rations: Union soldiers were given a daily marching ration of 1 1/4 pounds of beef, or 3/4 pound of pork or bacon, and 1 pound of hardtack (9 or 10 pieces), along with salt, coffee, and sugar. Confederate rations, though similar, depended greatly upon local circumstances and the vagaries of supply. One Federal officer noted that:
The haversack will hold comfortably but three days' marching rations ... and not over four can by any possibility be crowded into it. Soldiers generally put their coffee and sugar together in one bag, their pork or bacon into a paper, and then what hard bread they can put into their haversack, the rest into the knapsack; but as bread in the knapsack gets broken and much wasted, some ... prefer to throw away the surplus at the outstart, or to take less pork or sugar or coffee.50
Anecdotes: Private Walter Carter, 22nd Massachusetts Regiment, wrote from near Washington, D.C., in September 1862:
You can never know how I felt, after four weeks of jolting around, lying out in all sorts of weather, no tents, no blankets, nothing to eat but raw pork and 'hardtack' (so hard it is almost impossible to break them) ... this lying on the ground and eating this food is tough at first, and so is drinking bad, muddy water, but you soon get use to it... now when I am hungry, salt pork tastes as good as chicken and the hardtack as good as biscuits ... This morning I went foraging, and got corn, potatoes, cabbages, beets, etc., to make a grand boiled dinner. It was a great treat, after living so long on nothing; it tasted like home. It is fun to see the boys roasting corn and potatoes, frying meat, and making coffee. I can cook almost anything now in a rude way.
The following month near Sharpsburg, Maryland, he recounted his situation:
I have had good quality of food today, and that has seemed to content me, for my stomach has been at ease and not continually yearning for a fulness scarcely ever satisfied in this barren land. I have had a plate of baked beans for breakfast, and some soup made of the water in which our meat was boiled, and rice, beef, pepper, etc., boiled in with the mess for dinner. Very rich living that! ... Bob is on guard, and been popping this old yellow corn in an old iron pan; it tasted good, and most of it reminded me of the leavings at home - the 'old maids' in the bottom of the dish. They tasted even better than those at home, for Bob cooked them in pork fat and let them do brown and crispy. ... [Although sutlers were] denied us ... I got hold of some fresh bread and gingerbread some of our boys cleaned out of a transient sutler, who had no license ...51
Post-Civil War Era
Daily ration and anecdotes: Based on a modified Civil War ration "from 1865 through the early 1890's, the mainstays of soldier menus were hash, stew (slumgullion), baked beans, hardtack, salt bacon, coffee, coarse bread, contract-supplied range beef, and some condiments, such as brown sugar, salt, vinegar, and molasses." One sergeant noted, "For breakfast we had beef hash, dry sliced bread (no butter) and coffee (no milk); for dinner, sliced beef, dry bread and coffee, for supper, coffee straight - just dry bread and coffee - the food was very poor." In 1867, a soldier at Fort Kearny, Nebraska, was "living on Buffalow and bean soup." Dried apples and prunes were sometimes issued, and canned tomatoes and beans were added to the ration in the late 1880's. Although fresh vegetables were rare, desiccated vegetables "compressed into a large cake, thoroughly dried, requiring but a small quantity for a meal" were given the men.52
Campaign ration, 1877: 3/4 pound of salt pork ("Cincinnati chicken") and 1 pound of hardtack ("angle cake") per day.53
Spanish-American War, 1898
Standard ration: At the beginning of the war the daily allotment consisted of "1 1/4 pounds of beef or 3/4 pound of pork, 18 ounces of bread or flour, 1/10 pound of coffee, 15/100 pound of sugar, 1 pound of vegetables; 2 quarts of salt, 4 quarts of vinegar, 4 ounces of pepper, 4 pounds of soap, 1 1/2 pounds of candles, to 100 rations."54
Anecdotes: On the transport to Cuba one regular cavalry regiment subsisted on "hard bread; coffee, sugar, salt, and some canned beans and tomatoes," along with canned roast beef eaten cold from the container. The canned beef's condition was poor and the subject of a later Congressional investigation; the men "didn't like the taste of it, and ... didn't appear to be able to eat it." One officer noted that it had "a lot of scraps floating around in the grease and a very peculiar odor ... it was a stringy substance, and ... was different colors at different times." On shore bacon, canned corned beef, and canned, fresh, and refrigerated beef were issued, with the soldiers preferring fresh beef and bacon.
Private Miles O'Dwyer, 9th Massachusetts Volunteers, testified that on Cuba from the second of July till the seventeenth their meat ration consisted of "about half corned beef and half roast beef," with more of the former being issued. He also noted that:
"a very small percentage" of the canned beef he saw was tainted. "... we formed messes, [a corporal and] eight men to a mess ... The minute that we would get a can we would open it, and ... division it... We would take it out with a spoon, and the way we used it we would soak up a little hard-tack, and then ... mix it up with the roast beef, and put it in on the pan, and in some cases we would get a tomato ration and make a sort of stew. We would add a little water to ... cook it, but there was a great deal of complaint against the roast beef, because it was sort of a jelly stuff, and if you added a little water it would make a liquid of it. ... It was not as satisfactory ... as the canned corned beef. ... we used to like [to receive] onions because that would take the nauseating taste off the meat... and make it palatable in the stew."55
First World War
Standard ration: July 1917, 20 ounces of fresh beef, 18 ounces of flour, .08 ounce baking powder, 2.4 ounces of beans, 20 ounces of potatoes, 1.28 ounces of prunes, 1.12 ounces of coffee (roasted and ground), 3.2 ounces of sugar, 1/2 ounce of evaporated milk, with small amounts of butter, lard, vinegar, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Among the large list of substitutes are bacon, canned meat and fish (if the former was corned beef it was called "corned willie;" the latter was known as "goldfish"), turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas ("when practicable"), hard bread, canned tomatoes and potatoes, fresh vegetables when available.56
Campaign ration: "The field ration is the ration prescribed in orders by the commander of the field forces. It consists of the reserve ration in whole or in part, supplemented by articles of food requisitioned or purchased locally, or shipped from the rear ..." (Reserve ration: 12 ounces of bacon or 16 ounces of canned meat, 16 ounces of hard bread, 1.12 ounces of coffee (roasted and ground), 2.4 ounces of sugar, and 0.16 ounce of salt.)
Most cooking was done behind the lines by army cooks; the hot food was transported to the front lines in metal food containers called "marmites" ("Dixies" in the British Army).57
Fig. 4: "'Hot stuff - comin' through!' From the drawings of Captain Wallace Morgan." Originally published in the Army paper "Stars and Stripes" these doughboys are taking food to frontline troops. The metal food containers were described in November 1918: “At the present time the receptacle used for carrying hot food to the trenches is the marmite can. The different types of the marmite can are the marmite Norvegienne, the milk can, or such marmites as can be improvised out of gasoline cans, empty dehydrated vegetable containers, etc." John T. Winterich, Squads Write: A Selection of the Best Things in Prose, Verse and Cartoon From The Stars and Stripes (New York & London, Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1931), 147. Report of Commanding General, 1st Division, A.E.F., 1 November 1918, Charles H. Collins (major), Conservation of Food in the United States Army, 1917-1919, Army War College Study No. 37, 163.
Anecdotes: Captain R. A. McDonald, Supply Officer, 9th Infantry Regiment, 5 July 1917:
The two days' field and one day's reserve rations now carried on the wagons of the regiment are damaged to a great extent during a move ... During the last move of the regiment from Liancourt to this station (Pisseloup) at least fifteen hundred pounds of beans, coffee, potatoes, sugar and salt were wasted. The articles were issued in sacks, the sacks bursted on the wagons due to constant friction against boxes and the general mixing together of the articles with considerable dirt rendered them unfit for use. It is suggested that the one days reserve ration now carried on the wagons be dispensed with as it is considered unnecessary in this country where rations are easily obtained.
Echoing Civil War experience, "the two days' reserve ration carried in the packs of the men are invariably wasted. The hard bread gets broken through constant throwing around of the packs in the field; the bread is also exposed to rain which causes it to mold and renders it unfit for use."58
K Rations, Second World War
Daily ration: Among the different campaign provisions issued the K ration was the most successful, and, except for the 10-in-one ration, the most popular. (One report from Guadalcanal noted that canned C rations, which included Spam in one of the meals, were "cordially detested after the men had been living on [them] for four or five days."; Marine Corpsman Lester E. Folkenson described ten-in-one rations as "the cadillac of rations.")59
Called a "triumph of the packager's art" the K ration was also said to represent "the longest step yet taken toward achieving the perfect combat ration for mobile troops. The four primary requisites [being] ... (1) palatability, (2) nutritional value, (3) stability under severe conditions of transportation and storage, and (4) concentration ... the K Ration more nearly satisfies these requisites than any special ration developed up to the end of the first quarter of 1943." Harold W. Thatcher, The Development of Special Rations for the Army (Hist. Section, Gen. Admin. Serv. Div., Office of the Quartermaster General, 1944), pp. 61, 63.
As of March 1943 K-ration composition was:
Photograph by Tim Thompson.
Biscuits (K-l and K-2), 3 1/4 ounces (cellophane)
Meat and egg product, 3 3/4 ounces (can)
Fruit Bar, 2 ounces (cellophane and cardboard)
Coffee, 5 grams (aluminum foil)
3 sugar tablets, 1 ounce (paper)
1 stick of gum, 1 ounce (paper)
4 cigarettes (paper and cellophane)
Photograph by Tim Thompson.
Biscuits (K-l and K-2), 3 1/4 ounces (cellophane)
Cheese product, 4 ounces (can)
Confection, 2 ounces (carton)
Lemon juice powder, 7 grams (cellophane or paper)
3 sugar tablets, 1 ounce (paper)
1 stick of gum, 1 ounce (paper)
4 cigarettes (paper and cellophane)
1 clip of matches
Photograph by Tim Thompson.
Biscuits (K-l and K-2), 3 1/4 ounces (cellophane)
Meat product, 4 ounces (can)
Ration D Bar (chocolate), 2 ounces (greaseproof paper)
Bouillon powder, 10 grams (cellophane or paper)
3 sugar tablets, 1 ounce (paper)
1 stick of gum, 1 ounce (paper)
4 cigarettes (paper and cellophane)60
Each unit had a key for opening cans and was contained in a cardboard carton 6 5/8 inches long, 3 7/16 inches wide, and 1 7/16 inches deep; one full K ration (breakfast, dinner and supper) weighed 2 3/4 pounds.61
Anecdote: In Alsace on 12 March 1945, just prior to an assault, Second Lieutenant Paul Fussell and his company were treated to "a real breakfast. The company on this occasion included the cooks, whom we'd not seen for months. They had come up during the night with their stoves and pots and pans, and they regaled us with a heartening hot breakfast: biscuits, shit-on-a-shingle, real coffee with canned milk. Noted but made light of were the condemned-men implications of all this."62
My thanks go to the following people and institutions who encouraged and/or assisted me in this project: Sandra Oliver, Susan McLellan Plaisted, Charles Fithian, Andrew Gallup, Don Hagist, Sarah and Charles LeCount, Roy Najecki, the David Library of the American Revolution, Washington Crossing, Pa., and the U.S. Military History Institute, Carlisle, PA.
1. The Instruction of Frederick the Great for His Generals (1747) in Roots of Strategy. Thomas R. Phillips, Brig. Gen., ed., (Harrisburg, Pa., 1985), 323.
2. Robert Selig, "Deux-Ponts Germans: Unsung Heroes of the American Revolution", German Life (August/September 1995), excerpts from the journal of Private Georg Daniel Flohr, 51-52.
3. Paul Fussell, "My War," The Boy Scout Handbook and Other Observations (New York and Oxford, 1982), 265.
4. William Manchester, Goodbye Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War (Boston and Toronto, 1979), 260 (henceforth cited as Manchester, Goodbye Darkness). Eugene B. Sledge, With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa (New York and Oxford, 1981), 32 (henceforth cited as Sledge, With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa).
5. Manchester, Goodbye Darkness. 260
6. Peter Force, American Archives, series 5, vol. I (Washington, D.C., 1837-1853), 865 (henceforth cited as Force, American Archives). Billy G. Smith, The "Lower Sort:" Philadelphia's Laboring People 1750-1800 (London and Ithaca, N.Y., 1994), 97-99.
7. Timothy Pickering to Alexander Scammell, 17 February 1778, The Timothy Pickering Papers, vol. 33, Mass. Hist. Society, Microfilm Publ. No. 2, 177-178A.
8. Timothy Pickering to Alexander Scammell, 17 February 1778, ibid. French troops, 1756 pour chaque soldat aussy par mois [roughly, "for each soldier for a month"], "60 l[ivres]. de pain [bread]," "15 l. de lard [salt pork]," "7 l. de pois [peas]," "1 pot d'eau de vie [brandy]," "l. tabac [tobacco]." [l = livre = 1.08 pounds; 1 pot =1/2 gallon] (At an average of 30 days per month: daily ration, 2.16 pounds of bread, .54 pound salt pork, .25 pound peas, 2.1 ounces brandy, and .036 pound tobacco.) The Lapause Papers (Rapport de L'archiviste (Quebec) 1933-34), 74. "Under the Consulate and the Empire the ration became 24 ounces of bread and 8 ounces of meat," plus rice, beans, wine, brandy, and vinegar. "The average French soldier had grown up accustomed to simple living: Soupe and bread with a little wine and brandy kept him happy, so long as there was enough of them. (Dutchmen, especially Dutch sailors, found French rations a course in slow starvation.)" John R. Elting, Swords Around a Throne: Napoleon's Grande Armee (New York and London, 1988), 575. Subsistence and Messing in European Armies (Washington, D.C., 1897) (excerpts from sections concerning France, and Germany), 33-42, 52-53. This study found that French soldiers were issued 1.6 pounds of "pain biscuite" (overbaked bread) and .7 pound of fresh meat or .4 pound salt meat per day. (On campaign the fresh meat ration was increased to about 1 pound and salt meat to .7 pound.) Bread comprised an even larger proportion of German army field rations; 1.6 pounds of fresh bread or 1.1 pounds of biscuit, as opposed to .8 pound of fresh or salt meat daily.
9. Edward M. Coffman, The Old Army: A Portrait of the American Army in Peacetime. 1784-1898 (Oxford and New York, 1986), 341-342 (henceforth cited as Coffman, The Old Army). Paul Dickson, Chow: A Cook's Tour of Military Food (New York and Scarborough, Ontario, 1978), 29. Extracts from Manual for Army Cooks. July 1917 (War Dept. Doc. 564A, Washington, D.C., 1917), 75, 89 (henceforth cited as Extracts from Manual for Army Cooks. July 1917).
10. T.J. Wilson (captain), Notes on Canned Goods (Prepared Under the Direction of the Commissary General of Subsistence U.S.A.) (Washington, D.C, 1870). Dwight E. Phillips (colonel), "Napoleon: Grandfather of the MRE," Army Logistician (January-February 1995), 38-39. Extracts from Manual for Army Cooks. July 1917. 9. Report of Commanding General, 1st Division, A.E.F., 1 November 1918, Charles H. Collins (major), Conservation of Food in the United States Army, 1917-1919 (Study No. 37, A.W.C. Hist. Section), 163 (henceforth cited as Conservation of Food in the United States Army. 1917-1919).
11. Eleanor Hoffman, Feeding Our Armed Forces (New York, Edinburgh, Toronto, 1943). George H. Berryman (capt.), Charles R. Henderson (1st lieut.), Cyrus E. French (1st lieut.), and Paul E. Howe (col.), "Nutritional Evaluation of Overseas Rations," The Military Surgeon. Vol. 95, No. 5 (November 1944), 391-396. Harold W. Thatcher, The Development of Special Rations for the Army (Hist. Section, Gen. Admin. Serv. Div., Office of the Quartermaster General, 1944) (henceforth cited as Thatcher, The Development of Special Rations). Raymond A. Young, "Food Under Fire: The Evolution of Combat Rations," Army. vol. 25, no. 4 (April 1975), 28-31 (henceforth cited as Young, "Food Under Fire: The Evolution of Combat Rations").
12. John U. Rees, "'A better repast...': Officer's Fare in the Continental Army" (unpublished manuscript).
13. Sledge, With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa. 23-24.
14. Walter Harold Wilkin, Some British Soldiers in America (London. 1914), 227-229.
15. George Washington to the Secretary at War, 2 October 1782, John C. Fitzpatrick, ed., The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745-1799, vol. 25 (Washington, DC, 1938), 226-227 (henceforth cited as Fitzpatrick, WGW)
16. Larry J. Daniel, Soldiering in the Army of Tennessee: A Portrait of Life in a Confederate Army (Chapel Hill, N.C. and London, 1991), 59.
17. James M. McCaffrey, Army of Manifest Destiny: The American Soldier in the Mexican War 1846-1848 (New York and London, 1992), 94 (henceforth cited as McCaffrey, Army of Manifest Destiny).
18. Robert Goldthwaite Carter, Four Brothers in Blue (Austin, Tx. and London, 1979), 340, 414 (henceforth cited as Carter, Four Brothers in Blue). Manchester, Goodbye Darkness. 359, 365. Sledge, With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa. 268. Paul Fussell, Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War (New York and Oxford, 1989), 295.
19. Coffman. The Old Army, 168-170.
20. Coffman, The Old Army, 341-342. Don Rickey, Jr., Forty Miles a Day on Beans and Hay: The Enlisted Soldier Fighting the Indian Wars (Norman. Ok., 1977), 121 (henceforth cited as Rickey, Forty Miles a Day on Beans and Hay).
21. Emil and Ruth Rosenblatt, eds., Hard Marching Every Day: The Civil War Letters of Private Wilbur Fisk, 1861-1865 (Lawrence. Ka., 1992), 30-31 (henceforth cited as Rosenblatt, Hard Marching Every Day).
22. Orders, 11 June 1778, Orderly Book, possibly belonging to Lt. Col. William Smith of Jackson's Additional Regiment, 1777-1780, Numbered Record Books Concerning Military Operations and Service. Pay and Settlement of Accounts, and Supplies in the War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records. Record Group 93, National Archives Microfilm Publication M853, reel 3, vol. 17, target 3 (henceforth cited as Numbered Record Books, Natl. Archives). Carter, Four Brothers in Blue. 101, 116-117, 366. See also John U. Rees, "'The unreasonable prices extorted ... by the market People': Camp Markets and the Impact of the Economy," Food History News. Vol. VII, No. 4 (Spring 1996); "'Complaint has been made by many of the Inhabitants ...': Soldiers' Efforts to Supplement the Ration Issue," ibid., vol. VIII, no. 2 (Fall 1996). Rosenblatt, Hard Marching Every Day. 249-250.
23. Sledge, With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa. 175-176.
24. General orders, 2 June 1777, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 8 (1933), 171. B.H. Liddell Hart, ed., The Letters of Private Wheeler. 1809-1828 (Gloucestershire. U.K., 1997), 15.
25. Rosenblatt, Hard Marching Every Day. 30-31.
26. John U. Rees, "To subsist an Army well ...': Cooking Equipment, Soldiers' Provisions, and Food Preparation During the American War for Independence" (unpublished manuscript). Stephen E. Osman, "Dinner with the 92nd Illinois," Military Collector & Historian. Vol. XLVIII, No. 4 (Winter 1996), 182-183. Donald Wickman, ed., "The Diary of Timothy Tuttle," New Jersey History, vol. 113, nos. 3-4 (Fall/Winter 1995), 69, 71, 72. Ebenezer Fox, The Adventures of Ebenezer Fox in the Revolutionary War (Boston, Ma., 1848), 49-54. Oressa M. Teagarden, ed., John Robert Shaw: An Autobiography of Thirty Years. 1777-1807 (Athens, Oh., 1992), 40-41. Henry Steele Commager and Richard B. Morris, The Spirit of 'Seventy-Six (New York, N.Y., 1975), 641. Journal of Jehiel Stewart, 1775-1776, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty - Land -Warrant Application Files. National Archives Microfilm Publication M804, reel 2290, W25138 (henceforth cited as Revolutionary Pension Files, Natl. Archives). Jonathan Todd to his father, 9 November 1777, ibid., reel 2395, W2197. Joseph Plumb Martin, Private Yankee Doodle: A Narrative of Some of the Adventures. Dangers and Sufferings of a Revolutionary Soldier (New York, N.Y., 1962), 174-175. M.M. Quaife, ed., "Documents - A Boy Soldier Under Washington: The Memoir of Daniel Granger", Mississippi Valley Historical Review. XVI, 4 (March 1930), 546 (henceforth cited as Quaife, "Documents - A Boy Soldier Under Washington"). McCaffrey, Army of Manifest Destiny. 95. Carter, Four Brothers in Blue. 84, 101, 122, 138, 124-127, 140, 149-150, 160, 178, 411, 414, 420, 474-475. Rosenblatt, Hard Marching Every Day, 9-10, 30-31, 93, 113, 119-120, 249-250.
27. Rosenblatt, ibid., 30-31.
28. Carter, Four Brothers in Blue, 414. McCaffrey, Army of Manifest Destiny, 94.
29. Thatcher, The Development of Special Rations. 16. Revised caloric values based on table in Fred Anderson, A People's Army: Massachusetts Soldiers and Society in the Seven Years' War (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1984), 83-90 (henceforth cited as Anderson, A People's Army).
30. Louise Welles Murray, ed., Notes from Craft Collection in Tioga Point Museum on the Sullivan Expedition of 1779, (Athens, Pa., 1929), 55 (henceforth cited as Murray, Notes from Craft Collection). General orders, 11 July 1779, Orderly book of Col. Oliver Spencer's Regt., 27 July 1779 - 28 September 1779, Early American Orderly Books. 1748-1817. Collections of the New-York Historical Society, microfilm edition (Woodbridge, N.J., 1977), reel 9, item 93, 31 (henceforth cited as Early American Orderly Books, New-York Historical Society). Bell Irvin Wiley, The Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union (Baton Rouge, La., and London, 1978), 224 (henceforth cited as Wiley, The Life of Billy Yank). Thatcher, Development of Special Rations. 13, 35, 37.
31. Caloric table values are revised from Anderson, A People's Army, 85. Additional and revised values courtesy of Susan Plaisted, M.S. R.D., of Nutrition Services and Consulting, and Heart to Hearth Cookery.
32. Ibid., 84-85, 129.
33. Ibid., 85. John Knox, captain, 43rd Regiment of Foot, The Siege of Quebec and the Campaigns in North America. 1757-1760. Brian Connell, ed., (Edinburgh, U.K., 1976, originally published 1769), 66-67.
34. "... memorandum ... among some British papers at York Town Virginia," October 1781, Numbered Record Books. Natl. Archives, 151.
35. French Lieutenant Verger noted in October 1781, The English soldiers have received their regular rations throughout the siege [of Yorktown], including issues of sugar, chocolate, coffee, and rum." Journal of Jean-Baptiste-Antoine de Verger (sublieutenant, Royal Deux-Ponts Regiment), Howard C. Rice and Anne S.K. Brown, eds. and trans., The American Campaigns of Rochambeau's Army 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783, vol. I (Princeton, N.J. and Providence, R.I., 1972), 151.
36. Bruce E. Burgoyne, Enemy Views: The American Revolutionary War as Recorded by the Hessian Participants (Bowie, Md., 1996), 450-451.
37. Force, American Archives. 865. Charles Knowles Bolton, The Private Soldier Under Washington (Williamstown, Ma., 1976), 79 (henceforth cited as Bolton, The Private Soldier Under Washington). Washington to the President of Congress, 11 December 1775, General orders, 24 December 1775, Fitzpatrick, WGW, vol. 4 (1931), 157, 180. General Orders, 13 November 1779, ibid., vol. 17 (1937), 103.
38. General William Heath's orders, 12 July 1777, Numbered Record Books. Natl. Archives, reel 3, vol. 18, target 4.
39. George Weedon, Valley Forge Orderly Book of General George Weedon of the Continental Army under Command of Genl. George Washington, in the Campaign of 1777-8 (New York, N.Y., 1971), 217, 224-225, 291.
40. General orders, 6 August 1778, "Jacob Turner's Book", Walter Clark, ed., The State Records of North Carolina. XII, 1777-1778 (Wilmington, N.C., 1993), 526.
41. "Substance of the Contract for the Moving Army", 9 July 1782, George Washington Papers. Presidential Papers Microfilm (Washington, D.C., 1961), series 4, reel 86.
42. Murray, Notes from Craft Collection. 55. General orders, 11 July 1779, Orderly Book of Col. Oliver Spencer's Regt., 27 July 1779 - 28 September 1779, Early American Orderly Books. New-York Historical Society, reel 9, item 93, 31.
43. Journal of Jehiel Stewart, 1775-1776, Revolutionary Pension Files, Natl. Archives, reel 2290, W25138. Quaife, "Documents - A Boy Soldier Under Washington", 546.
44. An Act Establishing Rules and Articles for the Government of the Armies of the United States: with the Regulations of the War Department Respecting the Same (Albany, N.Y., 1812), 52 (henceforth cited as Regulations of the War Department, 1812).
45. Regimental orders, 14 June 1814, Orderly book: 25th U.S. Infantry Regiment, 3 July 1813 - 30 June 1814, Early American Orderly Books. New York Historical Society, reel 18, item 191, 81, 96. Regulations of the War Department. 1812, 41.
46. McCaffrey, Army of Manifest Destiny. 92. Coffman, The Old Army. 147.
47. George Winston Smith and Charles Judah, Chronicles of the Gringos: The U.S. Army in the Mexican War. 1846-1848 (Albuquerque, N.M., 1968), 279-280, 282.
48. Wiley, The Life of Billy Yank, 224.
49. Rosenblatt, Hard Marching Every Day. 88-89.
50. Wiley, The Life of Billy Yank. 224. Report of Capt. S.S. Patterson, formerly chief commissary of subsistence, District of Southwest Virginia, How to Feed an Army (War Dept. Doc. No. 129, Washington, D.C., 1901), 150-151.
51. Carter, Four Brothers in Blue, 101, 140.
52. Rickey, Forty Miles a Day on Beans and Hay, 116-117.
53. Ibid., 221, 266.
54. Commissary-General of Subsistence, Report for year ending June 30, 1898, 7, 25-32; cited in Bolton, The Private Soldier Under Washington. 80.
55. Food Furnished by Subsistence Department to Troops in the Field ... In Response to Resolution of the Senate of March 30, 1900, the Original Record of the [U.S. Army] Court of Inquiry Relative to the Unfitness for Issue of Certain Articles of Food Furnished by the Subsistence Department to Troops in the Field During the Recent Operations in Cuba and Porto Rico, part I (Washington. D.C., 1900), 52, 429-432.
56. Extracts from Manual for Army Cooks. 1917, 7-9. Young, "Food Under Fire: The Evolution of Combat Rations," 29.
57. Extracts From Manual For Army Cooks, 1917, 7-9. Report of Commanding General, 1st Division, A.E.F., 1 November 1918, Charles. H. Collins (major), Conservation of Food in the United States Army. 1917-1919. 163.
58. Captain R.A. McDonald, Supply Officer, 9th Infantry Regiment, 5 July 1917, ibid., 161-162.
59. Thatcher, Development of Special Rations. 35-36. Lester E. Folkenson, interview, 20 December 1997.
60. Thatcher, Development of Special Rations. 61.
61. Ibid., 61, 63
62. Paul Fussell, Doing Battle: The Making of a Skeptic (Boston. New York, Toronto and London, 1998), 3.